Happy new year! :D Today’s article is about choosing the area of your life to transform for this brand new year.
By now, some of you are probably armed with your list of goals to make it a blast. Some of you may not have thought about your goals yet. If you haven’t done so, it’s not too late to do it now! Take out a pen and paper, and spend the next 15 min (or more if you need to) writing everything it takes to make this year your best year ever yet.
Finish the exercise before continuing on with this article. I’ll wait for you here until you are done.
Done? How many goals did you come up with? When I did the yearly goal setting exercise with my clients, most of them came up with 10+ goals. I personally have a list of 14 big goals for the year. The most I’ve encountered so far is 40 goals, and it’s by a 16 year old girl!
In general, the more goals you set and strive for, the more you will get out of life (assuming these are empowering goals). However, it’s also obvious the more goals you set, the harder it will be to achieve all, simply because the increased number of goals will divert your energy. That’s where setting a focus for your year comes in.
Power of a Yearly Focus
Setting a focus for your year means to identify an area of your life you want to disproportionately focus on improving throughout the year. This focus can be an area of your life which you feel you have been neglecting in the past and want to start working on. It can be an area which, when improved upon, will enable you to have the best experience for the year.
When you set a focus for the year, it doesn’t mean you can only have goals in that area. You can continue to set other goals that may be out of the focus, just that a majority of your goals will be related to your focus in some way or another. For example, perhaps your focus for this year is to improve yourself, and then you will have different goals related to that, such as to be more productive, more sociable, increase your income, lose weight, and so on.
Your focus can be anything, from:
- An area in your life (career, health, finance, spiritual, family, friends, love, recreation, personal growth)
- A skill (communication, writing, public speaking, dancing, swimming, running, etc)
- An aspect of yourself you want to cultivate/strengthen (self-love, being sociable, confidence, charisma, productivity, organization, discipline, having integrity, responsibility, etc)
- A certain message you want to convey to yourself/the world
Benefits of Choosing A Yearly Focus
Why choose a focus for the year? There are two key benefits, really:
Benefit #1: Transformational Results in Area of Focus
When I was in my brand management role in my past company, we would design every marketing campaign around a single big idea rather than separate different messages. It had been repeatedly proven that a single, powerful big idea registered with more people and triggered more action than say, having 4-5 different messages, which typically confused consumers and resulted in no action taken in the end.
Similarly for goals, by choosing 1 core focus for our year, you accelerate the achievements and progress within the area in the year, resulting in transformational results. The beauty of a focus is that by being conscious and aware of your focus, it helps you to move ahead with much more clarity. This clarity will drive you to achieve tremendously in this area. Compared to if we were to have a laundry list of 40 goals in some 10 different areas – nothing’s ever going to get done! Chances are, we are going to get overwhelmed before mid-point or we are going to totally forget about the goals we set and revert back to our past behaviors!
Benefit #2: Sets In Place the Improvements Made
Besides getting more results, it also sets in place the improvements we have achieved in that area. Many people often have the problem of setting goals, achieving results in those goals, then having what they have achieved in those goals after they shift their attention else where. Yet when you spend a whole of 1 year working on an area, the improvements you obtain in that area are going to be deeply set in at the end of the year.
Let’s say you make health a focus area and you achieve a tremendous amount of improvements in the year. Throughout the year, you improve your diet, you exercise regularly, you wake up early every day. By the end of the year, not only would you have made dramatic leaps in your health, but the changes would also become a staple in your life because the actions have turned into habits. You are now more ready to focus on new areas and introduce new changes in your life.
My Focus Areas Through The Years
2007-2008 – Personal Growth
For me, in 2007-2008, my focus area was personal growth through corporate work in my ex-company. Throughout the course of my work, I was consistently requesting for the biggest and the best projects to stretch myself. I strove to exceed expectations for every piece of work I was given. I signed up for the best trainings within the company so I was ahead in my learning curve. I also connected with the seniors in the company to learn from them.
In the end, I was able to rotate across 3 different assignments in my 2 years in the company, when the norm in the company was 1 assignment per 2 years. All in all, this allowed me to gain a massive amount of knowledge and lessons, which then enabled me to quit and pursue my passion thereafter.
2009 – Establishing My Passion
In 2009 which was last year, my focus area was establishing my passion to the world. As a result, majority of my biggest achievements last year was centered on my passion, such as setting up my training business, being featured on media, establishing Personal Excellence, becoming a full-time life coach, speaking and giving workshops and so on.
Because I was so fervently pursuing my passion, it made me realize 2 things which I shared in my previous 2009 reflections article: #1 Helping others is what I want to do for the rest of my life. #2 The reason why I do what I do every day is because of you.
2010 – People, Love and Relationships
This year, my focus is going to be centered around people, love and connections. Putting other people’s needs in the forefront, loving everyone wholly and unconditionally, and establishing meaningful, authentic and real relationships. On hindsight, this is definitely no coincidence especially having discovered the driving force behind pursuing my passion is really helping others grow (see above).
So what is the scope of this focus? Everything, really.
- The World: Reaching out to even more people to help them live their best life. Knowing my readers, clients and workshop participants more deeply as individuals.
- Familial Bonds: Strengthening my connections with my parents who have always been forever doting on me since young, yet I have hardly ever reciprocated the love.
- Friendship: Knowing my current friends even better as individuals.
- Networking: Getting out there and knowing others better. Online: connecting with more fellow personal development bloggers and knowing current blogger friends better as individuals. Offline: Connecting with more experts and counterparts in the industry.
- Leadership: In terms of having a vision, carrying it true, and leading people (all of you) in the journey of growth.
- Love: In the past, I had been emotionally closed toward relationships. The past few years have seen the unlocking of these bonds, one after another. I look forward to uncovering and addressing more of my blind spots in this area.
To be honest, I’m really excited about this because people and relationships is something I had never overtly set as a goal in the past. Since then, the past 4 years from 2006-2009 have been a long journey of inner growth, from understanding myself, uncovering blind spots, increasing performance, surpassing personal limits, increasing my consciousness, living in the now, and many, many more. Having done so much inner growth and understood myself to a certain degree, I believe I’m now ready to transfer my attention to the outside world by focusing on the others around me.
In fact, after making the decision to focus on this goal, several blind spots have become apparent to myself. For one, my responsibility toward others. While I’ve always been responsible for my own self, I have not effected the same rigor to others around me. In retrospect, I’m beginning to realize my actions implicate others more than I have recognized.
Another blind spot is empathy toward others. I feel there is room for me to be more empathetic toward others — being sensitive to them, putting their needs first, understanding their feelings and knowing them as individuals. I look forward to seeing more blind spots and addressing them as I move ahead.
While I still have other goals in other areas (such as losing some more pounds toward my ideal weight, learning to manage my energy to maximize my productivity output), the focus on people and connections is the key anchor that holds all my goals together. This will be the guiding point for my daily thoughts and behaviors every day for the year.
Update 2015: As it turned out, the area of “people” is so big that it took me several years to see through every area! If I were to sum it up,
- 2010–2011: Improving relationship with my parents (ongoing)
- 2nd half of 2011: World travel and massive socialization
- 2012: Very active business networking
- 2012–2013: Love, and in turn finding my soulmate
- 2014: Marriage, new home, and family
From 2015 onwards and to at least 2016, my focus is now to help the world further by further building my business. And of course, continuing with the other areas that are now foundations in my life due to past years’ efforts: maintaining ongoing relationship with parents, my marriage with my husband, working with my course participants, and coaching with my clients.
Which Area Of Your Life Do You Want To Transform This Year?
How about you? What is your focus for this year? What is the key area in your life you want to transform this year to make it the best year ever?
As mentioned above in point #4, your focus can be a message itself. One of my readers was telling me that 2009 had been a year where he had grown a lot as a person – particularly on the professional front and his health. His focus this year is boost his productivity by “focusing on the big things.”
Another reader, Kimberly, said that her 2009 had been focused on others, and she now intends for this year is to be “a year of focus for herself”, which I thought is a fabulous idea! To be able to truly help others, you need to first meet your own needs first and foremost. One of my clients’ focus for this year is “To live life to the fullest”, which is the central message behind all the goals he has set for the year.
There is no right or wrong answer on what your focus is. It just needs to (i) be a single theme you want to focus on in the whole year and (ii) resonate with what you feel is biggest block toward living your best life this year.
Decide on your yearly focus, then start living true to it immediately. You will find that with a focus for the year, everything starts becoming a whole lot more coherent and things flow more naturally. Target to make the biggest progress and evolution in this area this year than you ever have before. :D